As many of my readers know, I lived in Boston from 2004 to 2012. I was deeply moved by the tragedy that happened there three weeks ago. The majority of my consulting clients live and work there, including @DorisRoach and @CaroleSacino. My sister-in-law wrote a beautiful piece on what it was like to be at home in Watertown during the manhunt.
Another one of my Boston-based clients is the New England School of Acupuncture, the oldest acupuncture college in the US. They did something really amazing to give back after the bombings, so I asked their president Sue Gorman (pictured below) to fill us all in.
Where were you on April 15 when you heard the news? What was your reaction?
Traditionally Marathon Monday, as we refer to it in Boston, is a major holiday with schools and offices closed. However due to NESA’s academic schedule, we have always remained open and so I was working on April 15th. Sometime in the early afternoon of that day I was told of bombings by the marathon finish line. The boyfriend of one of our staff members was working at the finish line as an EMT; so he began texting us updates regularly. Within minutes we knew something terrible had happened in Boston, just a few miles away from our campus.
Within two hours after the bombings and knowing that acupuncture can be a tremendous source for stress relief we posted on our Facebook page that we would offer free acupuncture in our student teaching clinic to anyone affected by the bombings. Over 8,000 visitors saw this post.
How is NESA responding to the tragedy?
By the end of Monday we knew we had to extend the time offered for free treatments and knew we needed help. Alumna Janette Reber began mobilizing alumni and other practitioners in the Boston area to provide treatments. Our initial idea was that we would have a variety of locations available to patients – in and around the Boston area and that NESA could be a suburban location for treatments. However given that many NESA students were on break for the week, I called Rebecca Schirber president of the Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine Society of Massachusetts for help. Simultaneously Diana Fried, the president of Acupuncturists Without Borders, reached out to me. Both offered to help mobilize acupuncturist volunteers to serve. Within a few more days NESA staffers Phuong Nguyen, Sheila Carroll and clinical faculty director Val Smith built a website traumarelief.nesa.edu to provide a mechanism for practitioners to volunteer their services and for patients to find access to free acupuncture treatments.
Why did you and the NESA team feel a need to get involved?
The marathon bombings and subsequent dramatic capture of one of the bombing suspects impacted a very wide spread part of the greater Boston area. Some of our own students, staff and faculty unfortunately witnessed many of these tragedies playing out in their own neighborhoods. Given the widespread ripple effect of the traumas, we felt the need to respond in the one manner that we could – to provide comfort and care to anyone affected by these tragedies. Within days we treated runners, first responders, bombing survivors, neighbors who witnessed gun battles, in our clinic.
How can acupuncture help trauma survivors?
Acupuncture has been very effective in treating a number of various ailments and pain. Among the many benefits is an acupuncture treatment protocol for relieving stress, specifically PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). The protocol uses five thin sterilized, disposable needles applied gently to five points on each ear (see attached photo). This treatment protocol has been used by Acupuncturists Without Borders (AWB) in past disasters like the earthquake in Haiti and more recently during hurricane Sandy with great success and providing much-needed relief for those in immediate distress. These treatments are fast, safe, effective and used by the United States military to treat PTSD.
What have been the results of the clinic so far?
During the ten days following the bombings nineteen NESA alumni volunteered their time in our student teaching clinic and provided care to sixty-two patients. On Monday April 29th students returned to school after their break; we continued to offer our free trauma clinic to anyone affected by the bombings. Students along with their clinical faculty advisors treated thirty-five patients in total last week. Over the course of our thirty-eight year history, NESA lived by a three-tiered mission to provide academic excellence, demonstrate a commitment to acupuncture research, and expand the use of acupuncture as a health benefit to the greater public health community. Therefore NESA has continued to offer free treatments to those affected by the bombings.
Thank you Sue and NESA for sharing this important information with the Communicationist blog and your volunteer services with Boston!